How Good Was the June Jobs Report?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its employment report for June, and the numbers are mighty impressive. Is it time to break out the bubbly, and declare that a full economic recovery is finally underway? Or should we curb our enthusiasm just a bit?
BLS’ headline numbers were spectacular: total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, while the unemployment rate declined to 6.1%. These weren’t just good numbers; they we’ve been needing to see consistently in this lengthy post-recession recovery.
Not only were the totals impressive, but a breakdown of the data reveals a broad-based surge in hiring during June: professional services, manufacturing, retail and financial services all saw nice gains in hiring. The construction industry was the big gainer – a fact that signals a healthy recovery in real estate.
The Washington Post – citing a recent Gallup poll – points out that 45% of Americans reported being employed full-time in June. This the highest number seen since the polling firm began tracking this figure in 2010.
It is hard to poke holes this BLS report, or to be anything less than excited by the accelerating recovery that these jobs numbers seem to indicate. Yes, it is that good.
About the only cautionary note we’d sound is to wait through a few more monthly reports before declaring the hard times to be over. Recent data suggests that the economy actually contracted earlier this year – a victim of the harsh winter weather.
Last winter slowed retail sales, auto sales, and consumer confidence — and put the brakes on what had been a strong real estate recovery in 2013. What we’re perhaps seeing in the June data is the result of pent up demand for labor, as hiring plans put on hold for months are finally brought into being. Perhaps.
On the other hand, this could well be the signal of strong recovery that we’ve all been waiting five years to see. Let’s hope this is what the June BLS numbers are telling us, and what future reports will continue to tell. We’ll certainly know if that’s the case by the fall.

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